At last! The new Arex I-X rocket—the first model of the rocket that will take humans back to the Moon and beyond—is out of NASA's assembling facilities, and is now at Launch Pad 39B, getting ready for launch.
The assembled Ares I-X was mounted aboard NASA's sandcrawler at Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 1:39 a.m. It arrived at Launch Pad 39B around 7:45 a.m.
The Ares I-X will test the viability of the 100-metre high Ares I, NASA's tallest, most powerful rocket since the Saturn V. The Saturn V was 10 meters higher than Ares, and remains the biggest, most powerful rocket ever launched.
If everything goes well, Ares I-X will launch on October 27, reaching 40 kilometres up in the air, and sending vital information about its performance. The first stage, solid rocket engine, will return to Earth. The dummy upper stages will fall down to the ocean.
Arex I-X is the first major milestone for the Constellation program, which in theory would take over the shuttle, and also bring humans back to the Moon and Mars. If el Sr. Presidente gives the go ahead, that is. At this point, the Constellation program is being evaluated by the Augustine Commission. Their final report, that will seal its fate, will be handed in to the White House this week.
In other words, enjoy this launch while it lasts.